I recently ended my subscription to a major newspaper. Asked by a representative why I was ending the service, I told him that the journalists in this paper used to be news reporters—but they have morphed into ideological warriors. They have lost a sense of their vocation. It’s hard to discern real news from fake news. (In fairness I should add that he did offer a renewal at a discounted rate).
But the writers in this paper are not alone. In our polarized culture, it’s hard to find objective news anywhere, anymore. It’s frustrating, unless you simply want voices who will confirm your own bias.
It’s not merely journalists who have lost their purpose—it’s also true of most politicians. If I could, I would like to end my subscription to their voices as well. But this is not so easy. I used to believe congressional representatives and presidents were elected to office to govern. This was my naïve assumption. This is what I was taught as a Political Science major. But effective governance is hard to find. Agendas are stuck in the mud. it seems politicians spend most of their time posturing and pontificating, sitting on investigative committees, and working as obstructionists. What a waste of such great potential.
But I can’t leave it here. It also seems the church is losing its own sense of vocation. I can say this. I am a pastor. We are beginning to sound like the same shrill voices we hear on radio or TV. We are operating more at an emotional rather than a rational level (just read most social media). We’ve forgotten that our primary mission is to reach the culture with the gospel. Jesus is our only hope. And behind this work must be minds (yes, minds) prepared for action, a set of behaviors that are excellent, and a defense of our faith that is done with gentleness and reverence (I Peter 1:13; 2:12; 3:15). If anyone had the credibility to call us to this, it was Peter, who wrote in times far more antagonistic than ours.
Unfortunately, in our age of constant attacks, we seem unable to give space for those with different ideas. We are too busy preaching rather than honestly listening. We are losing the ability to normalize others, treating opponents as human. We have lost sight that those we oppose are also made in the image of God. In a loveless age, we have become less charitable. Like the world, we have become prone to be dismissive and contemptuous. We have got sucked into the same weeds.
Being at the Acton Institute this week, where some 800+ attendees from all over the world come each year to engage in discussions ranging from economics to free market to poverty to sexuality to theology, I was so impressed by the constant call to be disciplined, articulate, loving voices. We were challenged to engage in dialogue, always with the aim of seeking truth. We were reminded to be persuasive—not coercive. A gospel of force is not the gospel.
Some may choose to hide, circle the wagons, and ride out the storm until Jesus returns. But we can’t. We are living amidst moral chaos that will ultimately lead to social and political chaos if we avoid the public square. Such silence only encourages people to turn to politics for their main hope. We must enter the fray and—out of love–call for justice. We must declare that Caesar is not God. If we don’t, we will continue to lose our freedoms to secular ideologies intent on taking away our liberties. Christians will continue to be repressed (statistically, each day, 263 believers lost their lives for their faith in 2016).
Still, I have great hope. Looking around at these Christ-centered educators, theologians, pastors, economists, political scientists, and businessmen, my faith is renewed. God always has His remnant—the One who is sovereign over every social sphere.